Chihei Hatakeyama: Ghostly Garden
Own Records

As he has done on previous collections for kranky and Room40, sound artist Chihei Hatakeyama alchemizes the sounds of electric and acoustic sound sources (electric guitars, vibraphone, organ, piano, field recordings, etc.) into lush ambient meditations on Ghostly Garden. In this case, Hatakeyama exploits the sonic potential of newly created sound files as well as some that have been used in past albums and live performances—not that anyone would recognize them necessarily, given the inevitable transformations that would have accrued over the course of the material's development.

The album material's pretty much of a piece, with only modest deviations from the shared template of deep, heavily and hazily textured ambient settings. In a prototypical track, individual sounds lose their identifying qualities as Hatakeyama smudges their outlines and blends them into larger, ethereal masses. One exemplar would be “Shadows,” a becalmed ambient drone soundscape whose swirls slowly blossom into deep, choral-enhanced states of transcendental reverie. In isolated cases, however, an instrument will emerge from the totality, such as when blurry traces of piano appear alongside the mystical voices and misty drones of “Ghostly Garden.” In addition, the inclusion of field recordings (voices, rain, birds) lends “Slight Trail” a more robust and extroverted ambiance.  Regardless, there's enough incandescent swirl and becalmed introspection (“Voices II,” “Sacred Flowers”) on hand to keep Hatakeyama devotees well-satisfied.

March 2010